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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

State of the Criminal Justice System: Cannizzaro pushes Mayor for budget increase

Posted By on Wed, Jun 13, 2012 at 11:31 AM

District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro delivered his annual State of the Criminal Justice System speech Tuesday night. I'll post a link to the full speech below the jump, but I'd like to point out one section near the end.

Mr. Mayor — council members, I must request that you significantly increase the local funding of the District Attorney's office. Long before any of you arrived at City Hall, the DA's office became the red headed stepchild of criminal justice funding. Last year — during the budget process, we presented you with an analysis that revealed that the Orleans Parish District Attorney's office was one of the worst locally funded DA's offices in the state of Louisiana.

For more about that analysis, read our article from November, "Cannizzaro: Orleans Parish DA may be most underfunded in state."

One recent topic of interest that Cannizzaro did not address on Tuesday was the Brady rule — and how alleged violations of it under former DA Harry Connick's watch still plague the office today. The problem is explained more fully in this Gambit interview with Cannizzaro from December:

(More after the jump)

The day after Leon Cannizzaro was elected district attorney in Orleans Parish, two ranking prosecutors from the office showed up at his home with some bad news: Attorneys for John Thompson, who was convicted of armed robbery and murder (in separate cases) in 1985, had won a huge legal judgment against the DA's office. The judgment came after a prosecutor made a deathbed confession that he had deliberately withheld evidence favorable to Thompson in the armed robbery case. Such favorable information, known as "Brady material" after a U.S. Supreme Court case by the same name, must be given to defense lawyers — or a conviction can be overturned.


[Thompson] sued the DA's office and won a judgment that, with interest, had grown to a staggering $14 million.

More on that in Slate.

Here's the beginning of the speech:


Download the rest of it here: 2012_Report_on_the_State_of_the_Criminal_Justice_System_-_Media_Copy.pdf

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